Companies are gradually becoming more sophisticated in their email marketing efforts, with greater use of personalisation and segmentation in their campaigns.
The Econsultancy / Adestra Email Census 2010 also finds that, though some areas are improving, too few are integrating email with other marketing activities, while many still don't know their ROI from email marketing.
Personalisation and segmentation
There has been a big increase in the proportion of companies taking advantage of their email vendors' ability to personalise emails, something which can have a significant effect on open rates.
More than half of respondents (52%) say they use personalisation, compared to 38% in 2009.
As the chart below shows (click image for bigger version), more companies are using more advanced tactics like using transactional emails for marketing, behavioural targeting and re-marketing.
More companies are making use of the services offered by email vendors:
As well as personalisation, more companies are using the measurement and analytics services offered by ESPs, as well as other features like design and copywriting services.
Nearly two thirds of companies (65%) are now using measurement services provided by their email service providers, an increase (+15%) from 50% of companies in 2009.
Integrating email campaigns
This is one area that hasn't really improved since the first Email Census back in 2007. Only 17% of company respondents say that their email marketing is fully integrated with the rest of their sales and marketing activities, no change from last year. Three-quarters (75%) of companies now say email is 'somewhat integrated with room for improvement', a slight increase on last year.
This lack of integration means that companies are unable to provide customers with a seamless experience with that organisation, while it also means missed opportunities for using data gleaned from customer behaviour in other channels to inform and improve email marketing efforts.
The biggest barrier to integration, according to both company and agency respondents is 'disconnected systems and technologies', while lack of skills and training and lack of budget are also cited.
A common theme running through the last four surveys is the lack of ROI measurement, and this year is no different, though the number of company respondents that don't know their ROI from email is down from 42% last year (and in 2008) to 39% this year.
For those that do know, the results are impressive. The proportion of companies who say that email marketing delivers an ROI of 300% or more has increased from 61% to 63%, while 5% more companies say their ROI from this channel is 500% or more.